The Art of Conversation
When I was in college, one of my friends stated that good conversation is the best thing in life. I’d never thought about it – I was young and more into being active.
But now I think he may have been correct. At Deer Run we host a lot of golf events, and what people seem to enjoy the most is the conversation after the golf. People want to talk. Alcohol helps loosen the tongue, but also makes people more tolerant listeners. That combination can really get the conversations going.
Another guy I went to college with was known as “Long Story”. Not only was he long, but he was unbelievably boring. His stories went on forever – they were just random uninteresting information about his day. For example, he’d start to tell you the facts about his morning – such as his breakfast, which would remind him of a breakfast he had years before with someone named Sue, then that would remind him of someone else named Sue … then … you were running for the door. His stories never had a point – they were just uninteresting information.
One weekend back then, I was sick in the bed with the flu. Long Story lived for opportunities like this – I was trapped. The flu wasn’t fatal – but the stories almost were – I’m lucky to be here today.
Goethe said that the test of civilization is conversation. A really good conversationalist is like Ricky Rubio with the basketball. Rubio controls the ball, but doesn’t dominate. He keeps the ball moving and passes it to the open player – he keeps everyone in the game. He might try a tricky behind-the-back pass … not to show off, but to get somebody the ball. Witty people can be good for a conversation – but not if they’re just showing off – if they’re keeping the conversation lively and interesting, that’s great – but not if it’s just a trick shot.
Many years ago I read that Jack Nicklaus said that he made a point of looking at people during conversations at parties. I’ve tried to do that ever since … there’s nothing worse than talking to someone who’s always looking around for someone more interesting than you are.
That’s my advice for holiday parties.
GM and Head Golf Professional